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Chapter 26 : Miss Lucky and her Battle Wounds
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Chapter 26: Miss Lucky and her Battle Wounds
Remember back in your childhood when you were watching a movie or reading a book and the characters were about to do something terrible? So there’s you, that little kid holding the book or watching that movie, and you’re screaming, “No! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!,” but they can’t hear you no matter what you do or say and they just keep doing it?
Well, in the story of my life, I suppose that moment would have been when Alexei asked me to play one-on-one with him. Or at least that’s what everyone else seemed to think. Because, believe it or not, the other part of those infuriating childhood books was that the character herself never thought she was doing anything wrong.
And despite what anyone would want me to believe, I didn’t think Alexei had any malicious intent when he asked me to play him last Monday. It was all good fun, not a desperate attempt to send me to the Hospital Wing.
I blinked against the blinding, white light, moving my arm to shade my face.
“Madam Pomfrey!” a voice called. It was a light voice, like pixies floating over a—what? Pixies? Really, Serena? It sounded like Lily. “Madam Pomfrey!” her voice sounded further away. “She’s awake!”
“S-She’s awake?” That voice was groggy and deep. Husky. Sirius. He must have been sleeping here.
I tried to sit up, forcing my eyes open to see who was around me. There were twelve people. No… that couldn’t have been right. Twelve? I blinked again, trying to focus. Eight, there were eight. Two Sirius’s, two Lily’s, two James’, and two Mary’s. Madam Pomfrey rushed over (all five of her), making me nauseous; my head was swimming.
Someone must have caught the look in my eyes, because a few seconds later I was thrust a kidney-bean shaped metal container of which I filled with the entire contents of my stomach—which wasn’t much, mind you.
Madam Pomfrey leaned over my bed, wiping my mouth with something cold and spongy that tasted like mint leaves. I opened my mouth to ask her what time it was, but she hushed me and handed me a cup of something foul-smelling to drink.
“Drink that, it’ll help with the nausea.”
I looked down at the cup (cups?). Whatever was inside, it was the work of someone shoving multiple root vegetables in a blender and calling it medicine. Pinching my nose, I bottomed up and drained the cup’s contents. Once I swallowed, a disturbed groan passed my lips and Madam Pomfrey gave one of those “Ha. You could have just drunk poison and you wouldn’t even know it” laughs.
She held up two fingers, waving them in my face for a moment to get my attention. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
I focused on her digits, willing them to bind themselves together with the ones that actual existed. “Four, but I know you’re holding up two.”
Lily glanced over at the doctor and Madam Pomfrey shrugged in response. “She’s able to designate between reality and everything else she’s seeing, so I’m not worried in the long-run.” She turned her attention to Sirius who was now standing at my bedside. “She’s going to need more sleep, though. You all need to go back to your classes.” Sirius picked up my left hand, giving it a squeeze. “That means you, Mr. Black.” She nodded toward the Hospital Wing’s gigantic double-doors.
Sirius leaned over, planting a soft kiss on my forehead before nodding to Lily and the two of them made their way out of the Wing. Mary bit her bottom lip for a moment before moving forward and wrapping her arms around me.
“I thought for sure you would never wake up,” she mumbled with a sniffle.
My eyes narrowed and I focused on her form, reminding myself there was only one Mary in the room. Mary pulled away, catching my look.
“It’s Friday,” she explained. “I’ll, uh, let you sleep. I’ll be back later.”
Mary started off toward the corridor and James took a step forward.
“It’s Friday?” I asked him, noting that there was only one James now, and he was completely devoid of any facial bruising from his fight with Sirius.
James nodded, glancing out the window behind me. “You know what that means, right?” he asked, looking back over at me. When I didn’t answer, he continued. “What’s white and round and comes out once a month to make your life miserable…?”
Full moon… If there was any color back in my cheeks, it was gone now. James frowned, sitting on the side of my bed and placing the back of his hand on my forehead. He leaned over to the rolling cart next to him, picking up a washcloth and dipping it lightly in a bowl of cold water.
“It’s been a month already…?” I mused, closing my eyes momentarily as James folded the washcloth and placed it on my forehead, pressing it lightly.
I hadn’t realized my core temperature was up, but the washcloth felt like heaven on my face. I reached up, taking the cloth from James and rubbing it over my cheeks. James waited until my hand was stationary and took the washcloth back, dipping it back in the cold water and wringing it out, handing it back to me when he was done.
“Guess so. Funny how those things happen,” he responded with a stoic face.
I suddenly became aware that my mouth very much tasted like stomach acid. I glanced around, looking for a cup of anything to get the taste out of my mouth.
James shrunk back. “Please don’t tell me you’re going to puke again…”
I shot him a look before scooping up a glass of something water-like from the cart next to me. Taking a few good swigs, I set the glass back down, wiping my lips with the back of my hand.
“Don’t you have class or something?”
James shrugged, glancing over at the clock on the wall. “I’ve got another ten or so minutes.”
I felt my eyes drooping. “That wasn’t just water, was it?” I asked him as I tried to keep my eyes open. It felt like I was sinking into the thin mattress below me. Like a bowling ball in a pile of feathers. Everything started to look far away.
“No, Miss Colton,” Madam Pomfrey answered me, appearing at my bedside. “Mr. Potter, it would behoove you to leave now.” She was adjusting the blankets around me, but I could barely feel what was happening. My eyes fell a little bit more as I watched her pause, turning back to James. “And you may find it in your favor to stop by the Headmaster’s Office on your way from class to here, hmm? He just may have what your friend is looking for.”
When I woke up next, it felt like someone had decided to box with my chest. I jolted upward, clutching my mid-section and let out a low, deep groan.
Madam Pomfrey shuffled over from another student’s bedside, waving away the attendant that had been trying to push me back down onto the bed.
“Now that is the reaction I was looking for, Miss Colton,” she cooed. The woman picked up a vial of something dark purple, placing it at my lips. “Open up.” When I didn’t do as she asked, Madam Pomfrey started to get impatient. “Now, there, Miss Colton. This is a pain-killer. You want to take this.”
I forced my mouth open, allowing the plum liquid to run down my throat. I swallowed willingly, wondering why it actually tasted good and not like rat’s pellets like I had expected it to. The medicine began to set it, and my uncurled my fists from my stomach, leaning back into a set of propped-up pillows and laying my hands at my sides. I steadied my breathing, looking up at the ceiling whose lights were dimmed from earlier.
It was only a few hours later. My bedside was empty—it seemed to be about supper—except for a vase of orange lilies that gave off a faint aroma of home in the summer. I smiled, reaching for the small piece of parchment stuck between them.
I didn’t make it to practice on Monday, but I heard you were feeling a bit under the weather. (Leave it to Tyler’s sister to break ribs playing quidditch!) I had these shipped over from home—I thought they might cheer you up.
Get back on your feet soon!
“Your blonde friend brought those by earlier,” Madam Pomfrey explained, shutting the privacy curtains around us so she could check my bandages. “And there was a dark-haired boy, too. Russian, Slytherin… ring any bells? He stopped by this morning but left when saw everyone else.” She pulled back my gown, her brow furrowing as she saw my wounds had started bleeding again. Picking up a fresh coil of gauze, she motioned for me to sit up.
Alexei came to see me? I frowned, wondering why.
“Did they see him?” I asked her, watching as she removed the bandages already in place. The right half of my abdomen was almost completely bruised, with a jagged wound in the middle of my ribcage.
Madam Pomfrey saw me eyeing my chest and explained. “You fell on your right side.” She pointed to the cut. “You broke three ribs and one punctured your skin. Missed your vital organs, though.” She gave me a pointed look. “You’re a lucky girl, Serena.”
I thought back to all of my spills due to quidditch before and how then too I had been Miss Lucky. My head tilted back and I looked at the ceiling, silently wondering why my brother hadn’t been as lucky.
“Mr. Potter was here just a tick ago,” Madam Pomfrey said as an afterthought, dabbing my right side with a cotton ball covered in medicine as pink as a gumball. “He said he would be back soon to bust you out of here for the evening.”
As she uttered her last word, I heard the Hospital Wing doors swing open. The curtain was closed around me, but I watched as a shadow walked straight up to my bedside.
“Speak of the devil,” I muttered, glancing back down to watch Madam Pomfrey wrap my abdomen in fresh gauze. She motioned for me to fix my gown. I do so, and she opened enough of the curtain that James could walk inside.
His brow was knit and his hands were shoved in the back pockets of his trousers. He nodded to the clock. “We have to go,” he told me bluntly.
I glanced over at Madam Pomfrey. She looked nervous, but I could tell she was trying to keep her face as stoic as possible. She glanced at me and gave me a nod. “I’ll keep your friends out of here for as long as you need. Just be careful coming back.”
James nodded with a semi-smile. “I’ve got that covered.” He leaned over, taking my arm and urged me to get up onto my feet.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed, confused. “Where are we going? It’ll be sundown soon, where’s the potion?”
I didn’t bother masking what I wanted to say. From the anxious look on Madam Pomfrey’s face, and from the way she was playing with the end of her wand on her belt, made me realize that she knew everything. Out of all the people I should have told, I thought in defeat. Someone on the infirmary’s staff should have been way up there on my list…
James frowned, giving a deep sigh as he helped me onto my wobbly feet. “It takes more than a week and a half to get everything for that potion. You’ve been fine for the past however-many years, yeah? Well give it another month.” He glanced toward the door, a look of anxiety on his face. “But we need to go now before everyone gets done with dinner.”
My legs felt a bit like they were made of springs. It was weird getting up after sleeping for four-ish days, but I was happily surprised that they didn’t hurt as much as they should have.
“Your legs were easier to heal,” Madam Pomfrey explained, reading my thoughts. “It’s more difficult, and risker, to heal skin around vital organs.”
We all stepped outside of the curtain and she shut it behind us, muttering a charm to seal the fabric shut.
“Go,” she insisted, motioning toward the door. Her eyes locked with James’s and she spoke directly to him, “don’t let her out of your sight and bring her straight here in the morning.”
We didn’t run into any of our friends on the walk to the Room of Requirements, but at one point heard Lily and Mary’s voices and had to duck into a no-longer-used classroom for a minute to make sure we weren’t seen. As we rounded the corner to my full-moon-safe-haven, it really began to sink in that, once again, I would have to turn into a hideous beast.
I planted my feet into the stone floor. And James is here… “I’ll, uh, see you tomorrow.” I watched him, hoping he wouldn’t protest too much. I was still unsure on my feet and my thumping headache from movement made me not want to fight with him just yet.
James shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest. “Not a chance. I’m staying with you.”
I furrowed my brow with a frown. I leaned slightly on the wall next to me, ignoring the protests of the portrait I was next to. “What are you going to do? Sit and hold my hand all night?” I scoffed.
James shrugged, a slight smile creeping up onto his lips. “If you want.”
“Well I don’t ‘want.’ So hit the road.” I gathered my strength, pushing past him and standing in front of the open stretch of corridor I would need to pace in order to make my monthly prison appear.
James didn’t move, but turned to face me again. “You’ve still got an hour or so. Why don’t you just let me come in and keep you company for a while. The wait must be the hardest part.”
My eyes narrowed into slits and I stumbled forward a bit before gathering my balance. I looked him straight in the eyes, curling my lips into an unflattering snarl. I spoke slowly and softly, hoping no one would walk by during our conversation. “No, James. The hardest part is actually a toss-up between feeling my body and my thoughts go and waking up in the morning cold, scared, alone…not knowing where I am or what happened to me. That is the hardest part. Not the wait.” I paused, inspecting his face. “Actually, better yet, the hardest part is the entire thing. Everything you have no idea about.”
James stayed silent and I continued, taking another step forward. “It’s waking up each morning terrified and cursing the day a moon, that I no longer have the luxury of gazing upon, brings me to my knees and stretches my bones until I don’t know where I stop and the thing inside me begins.” Tears welled up in my eyes, threatening to overflow down my cheeks, but I couldn’t stop. “It’s lying to my family…my friends…telling them I’m going places that I’m not just because I need to protect them. It’s having that thing attack me, leaving scars on a body I hardly know is mine anymore!” I fixed him with a stare so full of defeat that I didn’t even realize that I had been yelling. I took a deep breath, feeling the tears pour down over my pale cheeks. “That,” I whispered, “is the hardest part.”
James didn’t say anything. His eyebrows were drawn together in concern; his lips turned down in a frown that was more sad than angry. I wanted to keep yelling at him. I wanted to tell him everything I hadn’t been able to tell anyone before. I wanted to take away the pain and somehow put it on him—make it all his fault. I didn’t deserve this. But neither does he, a voice in my head said calmly.
So James just stood there, not saying anything until he stepped forward, brushed the hair out of my face, and placed a warm kiss on my forehead. “I know.”
So there I sat, in the middle of the cold-brick pit, watching James find a comfortable place on the stairs. It had been easy to fix the shackles—which had been broken open the past full-moon—and, with a bit of James’s help, so had the hole in the cage.
He hadn’t asked questions, or even looked the least bit surprised, when I brought him into the room. He just glanced around, nodded, and asked what he could do to help. I had watched him pace around the cage for a tick before he turned to give me a questioning look and asked again.
It was a bit more than surreal. I never thought I would ever see anyone in the room with me…
“How much longer?” I asked after a moment, watching James as he took out his wand and scratched his back with its tip.
“Twenty minutes maybe,” he shrugged. Tucking his wand back into his robes, James shot me with a pointed look. “Are you sure you’re fine with me being here?”
I chuckled, getting up off the floor and moving to the stone chair. I slipped my ankles into the shackles before putting my wrists through the ones on the arms of the chair. “Better question: are you fine being here?”
“Don’t worry about me.” He was almost smiling, but I pushed that out of my mind.
I felt my feet tingle, like someone was vibrating my bones, and I cringed. “You should probably get out now,” I warned him, pressing my teeth together. My jaw began to feel sore and I shook my head back and forth in a hopeless attempt to release the tension.
He’s going to see me transform… A part of me had always wanted to know what it looked like, but having James see me turn into a werewolf wasn’t what I had meant by that. My mind flashed back to the last full-moon when I had felt my mind go…felt it begin to explore what human flesh would taste like… And now…
I growled, something deep within my abdomen—a warning tone. My eyes snapped up to James’s form. He was outside the cage, but it was obvious he dragged his feet on his way out because he was just now waving his wand at the lock. His eyes found mine and I cringed, a sharp pain jolting up my back like a lightning strike.
My back arched and I let out a howl unlike anything I had experienced. You have three broken ribs, idiot, my brain reminded me. This is going to be your worst transformation ever.
“AhhhhhhhHHH!” I screeched, balling my fists until my nails pierced the skin on my palms, letting warm cherry blood drip down onto the cold brick of my stone throne.
I could feel my bones morphing—stretching—but as my eyes searched my body, I couldn’t see any outward changes. I uncurled my fists, latching onto the end of the chair’s arms to avoid cutting anymore into my palms. My eyes snapped over to James momentarily before slamming them shut as another jolt of pain shot through my body.
Change… Change! I willed myself, shouting in my head. Bloody hell CHANGE! I heard something snap, wet and sickening, and I gave another howl that I hoped hadn’t blasted James’s eardrums. Come on, come on, bloody come ON!
I was beginning to think I would never transform, and while my thoughts drifted to how a night completely full of my boyfriend’s best mate watching me writhe in mind-numbing pain would be less-than-ideal, I jerked to the side—feeling like a brick had just fallen on my head. My eyes drifted lazily around the room, my head lulling back so I was looking at the ceiling. There were spots everywhere I looked, gradually getting bigger and bigger as the pain accelerated past anything I could ever tolerate. I guess the good thing about this is that I’ll pass-out before—
“Can you hear me?”
There was something cold dripping somewhere on my body. My body? That didn’t sound quite right. Why didn’t I refer to it as my fur? My skin? There was something cold dripping somewhere on my skin. It itched. I went to scratch at it and felt something wet on smooth skin. Lips. It was water on my lips. No, that’s not quite right either. There was water on my muzzle. Yes, that was right. My snout. Something was putting water on my snout. Rain?
“Can you hear me?”
I thought about opening my eyes, but decided I wanted another hour or so of sleep. Of course I can hear you, you sodding idiot. I huffed an annoyed snort in reply.
Very persistent this creature was. I blinked a few times, letting my pupils constrict to the light. It was a human—how strange. He was broad, this human, and had dark straggly hair with a pair of spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose. Even stranger yet, he did not seem the bit worried that he was trying to rouse me. I narrowed my eyes at him, waiting for the human to make his first move. He sat above me, so he had the advantage that way—but I was positive that it wouldn’t be difficult to take him down in the end.
“Serena, are you alright?” The boy asked—for I had seen enough humans to realize his short hair and wide-build marked him as a male—tilting some sort of clear container toward me.
I flinched, shrinking backward as I missed the stream of liquid pouring out of it. The boy seemed startled as he stopped the flow out onto the ground. He did something odd with his forehead, crinkling it up like one of those under-sized pug things.
Why did he keep saying that word? Or was it a word? A name, perhaps? I blinked at him, trying to gauge whether or not he was a threat. I was too tired at the moment to lust for a fight, but there was something about his well-toned muscles that alerted me to the fact that he would make a tasty snack later on.
He held eye-contact with me, though that was his only outward sign that the human was ready for a fight. I narrowed my eyes, snapping my jaw at him and letting out a long, low growl.
The boy’s eyes widened and he scampered to his feet—clumsy.
This will be easy.
“That sodding prick…” Sirius cursed, grinding his teeth together. “Where does he get off—“
Remus cut him off, motioning to him and Peter. “Sirius, stop it. I had you guys, that’s all it took. I’m fine.” They had just passed the Whomping Willow and were making their way back to the Gryffindor common room, making their way quite noisily through the grounds thanks to Sirius. “You all deserve a month off every now and then, I would think.”
Sirius shook his head vehemently. “Not a chance. We’re your best mates and we will always be here for you. This isn’t something you have to go through alone and he should have been here.”
Peter twiddled his fingers together in front of him nervously, not quite sure what to make of the situation at hand. “Perhaps James thought you and Remus wouldn’t want him around after what happened a few days ago…?” he suggested, glancing over at his friends. “It would explain his lack of a presence…”
Remus nodded in agreement, giving Sirius a pointed look. “He didn’t even show at supper, mate. He’s probably just figuring things out.”
Sirius knew they were right, but chose to ignore that fact due to how peeved he was about James still. “He’s going to need a lot more time if he thinks he has any chance of figuring himself out. Potter’s got an ego the size of England.”
Peter piped up again, trying to take the focus off James. “I’m sorry I can’t be of more assistance, Mooney…” he confessed, looking down at the ground as they made their way back into the castle through the same passage way they snuck through every full-moon.
Remus clasped him on the back, giving the short boy a warm smile. “Don’t fret about that, Wormtail. It’s enough having you there for support!” He then turned his attention back to Sirius who was frowning as he walked. “Plus, the dementia was hardly noticeable this month.” He paused, giving his best mate a hard look. “Leave him be, Padfoot.”
Sirius wanted to protest, but Remus’s expression shut him up. He was right. There had been no real problems this month and, since James obviously had something more important to deal with, he shouldn’t make a big deal about it. James was doing a fabulous job of ruining his friendships by himself, Sirius didn’t need to help it along.
Remus waited a moment, calculating the look on Sirius’s face. “Alright?” Remus tested as they walked up to the Gryffindor common room, speaking the password and climbing through the portrait hole.
Sirius shrugged, plopping down on the couch. “Alright.”
A/N: Well, there it is! Chapter 26! And right at the end of the deadline I gave myself. ;) But still a really fast turn-around from Chapter 25, yeah? :) I hope you enjoyed it! Make sure to rate and leave a comment! Time for another round of speculations! What's wrong with Serena? Will she end up hurting James? Will he be able to get her back to the hospital wing in time? Will Madam Pomfrey even be able to help? Will Sirius get in another fight with James over him not being there for Remus? Will Remus and Serena finally meet each other for who they both really are?? So many questions! :)
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